Eva Lechner



Hi Eva, can you introduce yourself?

Hi! My name is Eva Lechner. I’m from South Tirol, Italy. I’m 30 years old and a professional mountain biker and cyclocross rider.


How did you first get into cycling?

I’ve always been interested in cycling and used to watch the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia with my father when I was a child but knew nothing about mountain bike racing. When I was 16, I wanted to finally buy a new bike as I’d only ever had my sister’s old bikes. I got a summer job and started saving up. At the bike shop I got to know the coach of the local mountain bike team, and he invited me to train and then race with the team. I was thrilled, so I accepted the invitation and was soon taking part in my first race. I loved it from the outset and realised I’d found my sport. I took up cyclocross 8 years later.


What do you like the most about cyclocross and MTB?

I like off-road disciplines because it’s not just about being physically fit, you need technical ability too: it’s a combination of stamina and technique. I relish this challenge as it makes things more interesting, and more fun too!


I don’t imagine it’s easy to combine cyclocross and MTB.

No, it’s not easy, and that’s why I am not able to ride the entire cyclocross season. I normally begin in late November and keep going until the World Championships before turning my attention to MTB, which is currently my main discipline and the main focus of my team. However, I am able to take part in the biggest cyclocross races and that’s great. I just have to make sure that I have enough of a break between the two seasons!


You have won a lot of big races several times in your cycling career (European championships, Italian championships, World Cup races, etc.). Is there a special victory that you will never forget?

I think that all my victories in big races are special and I certainly won’t forget them. I reckon that my first MTB World Cup win in 2010 and my first Cyclocross World Cup win in 2014 are my most vivid memories.  


In 2008 and 2012 you qualified for the Olympic Games in Beijing and London. What was your experience of the Olympic Games?

The Olympic Games are a major event and it’s almost impossible to imagine what it’s like without actually being there. It really is an unforgettable experience. However, the Olympics, especially the London games, have been a big disappointment for me so far, the biggest disappointment of my career in fact. Even though I don’t have fond memories of my performances, being at the Olympics is a great experience!


What would you prefer: to win a gold medal at the World Cyclocross Championships or win MTB gold at the Olympic Games?

Both! I think that being Olympic champion is particularly special as the Olympics only take place every 4 years, whereas the World Championships come round every year. But it goes without saying that winning both would be fantastic!



What is your goal for the Olympic Games 2016 in Rio?

I hope to win a medal. 


After so many years of cycling at a high level, isn’t it difficult to remain motivated and stay 100% focussed on your sport?

It’s not always easy to stay motivated and, truth be told, it gets more and more difficult each year. However, when you start to get good results, the motivation always comes back, which is great. Nevertheless, even though I love my sport, it’s not always easy.


What has been the biggest disappointment in your cycling career?

The Olympic Games in London. I had a very tough time after that.


Your faith in Jesus Christ is also very important. Can you tell a little bit more about that?

My faith in Jesus Christ is very important to me. I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to atone for my sins and those of all mankind. The Bible guides my life and my relationship with God is important for ensuring a good balance, both in my everyday life and in my sporting career.



Do you attend a church and is it a Catholic church?

I go to church but not to a Catholic church (not Roman-Catholic at least). Our church services are just like the ones described in the New Testament in the Bible.


Do you believe that God has given you a talent for cycling?

Yes, definitely. I believe that God has given me a talent for bike racing and I see my cycling career as a gift from God. I’m riding for His glory too!


Do you talk to your colleagues about your faith? If so, how do they react?

Yes, I sometimes speak to other riders about my faith. Some are very interested and ask me questions while others don’t say much in return but respect my views.


Can you make a difference in your sport through your faith?

I don’t think that I’m going to win every single race just because of my faith, but I do trust that God will help me, especially in the most difficult situations, and give me the strength to make it to the finish. I’m convinced that He will never allow any more disappointments or setbacks than I can handle and trust that He will see me through!

And when I win, I thank Him for making it possible!


Have you been through an experience in training or in competition where you felt the presence of God?

Yes. As I said before, my biggest low was just after the London Olympics. I was so downcast that I couldn’t eat properly. I grew very weak. The MTB World Championships were just 5 weeks after the Olympics and I spent a whole two weeks off the bike before resuming my training but I struggled because I felt weak. I started to pray a lot, asking God to give me the strength I needed for the World Championships. I prayed for more fighting spirit, so that I could show what I was made of in spite of a difficult season. At the World Championships, we won gold in the relay, beating France in the sprint, and I performed well.

In the individual race, I got off to a great start and after 1 ½ laps I was in 2nd place in a lead group of four. Then I crashed heavily on a descent and was slow in getting back up. I remounted and finished the lap in around 30th position. One lap later, I’d found my rhythm and flew through the pack, passing my competitors one by one until I was around 20 seconds off 3rd place. I was flying and felt no pain. However, on the last lap I crashed again and ended up finishing in 14th place.

Obviously, I was disappointed as I knew that, on the day, I felt so good that I could have challenged for the world title, but I was also happy that my prayer had been answered. I needed to show what I was made of and that I could still perform; and on race day, I fought like a lion!


Is there a bible verse, quote, Christian movie or song that is important for you?

Isiah 40: 28-31

Facing the Giants (Film)


If you had one wish, what would it be?

I would like to see many more people believe in Jesus Christ and thus be saved from eternal death.